Easter Thought – 2016

Every year as we approach Easter I feel a sense of awe filling my heart. For so many Christmas is the “Holiday Season” or the “Season of Joy” but for me (someone who did not grow up celebrating Christmas) Easter was always more special than Christmas. Yes I know of the pagan origins of Easter and how it was moved to coincide with the resurrection, but I also know my Lord was resurrected and tradition tells me it was on this day.

We get so caught up in traditions, though, we forget this simple fact. We forget to celebrate the greatness of the day. Sure many of us go to an Easter service and listen to a sermon about the importance of His resurrection, but do we really take a step back and look at it? Do we really celebrate the wondrous meaning of Jesus’ resurrection? Jesus died for our sin, once and for all. He died for all sin yesterday, today and tomorrow. All the sin of the all the world is blotted it out by Jesus’ blood. That is an amazing and gracious thing He did for us. Now, though, Jesus rose from the dead to go to the Father so we may also go to the Father and live eternally with Him.

Drink this in for a moment.

Jesus not only gave His life for us; He rose so we may have life! Every time I start to think of the events of this time I’m speechless. The scourging, beating, and then being hung on the cross – the worst way to be killed in history – all of this and why? So He could cover our sins with His blood and then rise again to take us home to be with Him forever. Who can say they love you more than this? Who would totally give their lives in the most painful way possible in order to secure your eternal destiny?

When you really look at the end of Jesus earthly life how can you not cry for joy or feel the complete love God feels for you? God came here to earth in the form of Jesus not just to teach us a new law or make a new covenant with us, but to give Himself in our place!

Focus on this during Easter this year, not the traditions or other things we, as humans, have added into celebrating the Lord’s resurrection, but truly celebrating His resurrection.

Happy Easter Everyone!

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A New Year’s Thought – 2016

2016 is upon us. A lot has happened to me over this last year. I have changed some goals in my life and made some important new ones, but really my thoughts at the New Year always turn to the past. I said the same thing last year. “Is the year really over?” I think to myself. Yes it is and I should glorify God in that not complain how fast the time is starting to go. Time speeds up as you get older because so much more of it is already in the past, but the Lord knows this and takes us through it.

We should be looking forward to His glorious return! That is where our eyes should be fixed. Maybe this year, maybe this very month or maybe, even, today He will return. This is where our focus should be. Otherwise the Lord said that the day shall come as a thief in the night. To that end I want to keep my focus not only on the future but on God. I want every iota of my focus on God throughout the whole day, every day.

A friend of mine challenged me with something that is apparently going around the Christian Blogosphere: “The 365 Prayer Challenge”. (For 2016 that will have to be “The 366 Prayer Challenge”.) The challenge is one that no blogger would misunderstand write 365 (or 366 this year) prayers out. One for each day. At the end of the year post them in either a PDF or some other downloadable format, or straight to the blog. This challenge is to keep your focus on God throughout the whole year of 2016.

I want to do it. I want to keep my focus on God 24/7/366 for the year of 2016. I am also challenging you out there in the Blogosphere and Podosphere. Write down a prayer every day, there is no length requirements, just pray. I will be posting mine as a PDF attached to my New Year’s thought for 2017.

Let’s make 2016 the year of Prayer!

Christmas Thought – 2015

Today is the day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Christmas really is a weird time. It was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church to bring in all the pagans who were already practicing a festival on that day. So as we all know Jesus wasn’t really born on Christmas day. It really is as good a day to celebrate as any other, arbitrary, day.

But putting aside all this for a second I look at Christmas for Christmas’ sake. What is the purpose of Christmas? In all honesty I grew up in a household that, although Christian, did not celebrate Christmas. (No, we were not JWs.) So as something that I do celebrate now with my wife and daughter, I have to ask that question. In today’s Christianity what purpose does Christmas have?

Sadly, for a lot of people, it means they go to church (for the first time since Easter) hear all about the virgin birth and (maybe) a gospel message, then they go home. Later on Christmas day they open presents they’ve been worked all year to buy. In this hypothetical person’s life consumerism has obviously taken the lead in Christmas. Is this what Christmas is about? Blatant and unabated consumerism? For others it is all about balancing out their imaginary scales of right and wrong, the scales of karma, if you will. Volunteering, baking, helping others, giving gifts (consumerism again), and spending time (read putting up with) family top the list of things that add positive karma.

Is any of that Christmas? Pastors over the years have come up with many great sermons as to the “Biblical Christmas” or the “Message of Christmas” but I ask you to find in the Bible where it actually talks about Christmas. Yes the “Christmas Story” is there at or near the beginning of three of the four Gospels, but that is missing the point. The Bible is silent on all of our holidays.

Christmas’ purpose? We can read in Matthew of His birth and the visit of the wise men (which was not on the day of His birth). We can read another account of His birth and the visit of the shepherds (which disproves a winter date) in Luke. But these do not readily point out the purpose of Christmas. I think the Gospel that has a “Christmas Story” that points out its purpose the best is John’s Gospel. In the prologue to John’s Gospel (John 1:1–18) John gives a summary of the whole Gospel.

John shows us how God came to earth to take away the sin of the world and allow believers to become children of God. Some have said that the Gospel of John does not have a Christmas story, much like the Gospel of Mark. I, however, think it has one of the most complete Christmas stories, without having to read the whole Gospel through to figure it out. It even mentions His birth (“And the Word became flesh” verse 14).

We briefly touched on its purpose, but really Christmas has no meaning without the cross and resurrection. Jesus could have come all the same way He did and without the cross and resurrection it would mean nothing. That is what I am remembering this Christmas season and I hope you will too. As you spend time with family and give and receive gifts I pray you will remember Christmas’ purpose. That all the sin of the whole world was taken away once and for all and whoever believes in Jesus as their savior will have eternal life.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thoughts on a Father’s Love

I have been contemplating a father’s love recently because my wife and I just recently welcomed our daughter into the world. It is truly amazing how much I love this little person that has done nothing for me but cried, kept me up at night, made it hard for me to get out of my door, and made a larger financial burden on me. I love her more than words can ever express, and yet this points out to me how much more the Lord loves us.

Verses like John 3:16 point it out in my mind. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 BOGV) God loved us so much he gave up His one and only Son. We didn’t deserve for God to do this. We didn’t deserve it at all. This is the situation my little girl was in when she was born. She didn’t deserve anything from me. She hadn’t earned anything yet, but I loved her still. The emotions that went through me and struck me to the core couldn’t be changed.

It makes me think of the song How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. The words resonate in my spirit. “How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son, To make a wretch His treasure” That is what the Lord thought of us. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to redeem us. He didn’t do it because we deserved it, or had earned it but because He simply loved us that much. Our Triune God loved us so much that He fully gave His own life on the cross for our eternal destinies. That is what the Lord has been showing me in this brand new experience of becoming a father.

A New Year’s Thought – 2015

With the beginning of the New Year two things always crop up in my mind and that is the past and the future. There are two ways that I tend to look at the past. It is either with regret for the things I’ve done wrong or with fondness over the happy memories. I am a journaler so I’ve been taking a look back through this past year. It flew by! I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this last year. But really the Lord took care of me and brought me through it. He also brought a verse to mind as I reviewed this last year.

That verse is Philippians 3:13: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” (English Standard Version).

Forgetting what lies behind. That is something powerful. As I looked into this verse I’ve seen many arguments of the sort that “Our actions define who we are so shouldn’t we hold onto the past?” I feel as though it is more of a letting go of the past so we don’t regret, fret or worry over what we’ve done wrong because it is covered by Christ’s blood.

I came across a metaphor about this. You can think of yourself like a piece of paper. All your sins (before repentance) are written on you. Then you are washed in Christ’s blood. What happens? Does it change you from being a piece of paper? No but it does blot out all the writing that was on you. Even if we are to try and write another sin on the blood covered paper does it show up? No it too is covered by the blood.

The other reason that we are to forget the past is because we have something amazing to look forward to. That is the Second Coming of Christ. How are we to keep a watch for Christ’s return if we are busy holding onto the past.